A Montgomery County man who was fired from his job at an automotive training school mere hours after his superiors learned he was contemplating taking legal action against the educational institution has filed a lawsuit against his former employer in federal court.
In his lawsuit, filed April 9 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Royersford, Pa. resident Frank Fazio claims that he was terminated from his position as an admissions representative at Automotive Training Center in Warminster, Pa. last summer after his supervisors discovered Fazio was planning to file suit against the school for alleged violations of the federal Fair Labor Standards Act.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Peter Winebrake, R. Andrew Santillo and Mark J. Gottesfeld of The Winebrake Law Firm in Dresher, Pa.
Fazio, who began working for the center in July 2010, was fired the following July. The termination, Fazio alleges, was in retaliation for his signaling that he would sue the school for not paying him proper overtime compensation.
The suit claims that Fazio was not properly compensated for time worked over 40 hours a week; the company claimed Fazio was exempt from overtime pay given his position as admissions representative.
Fazio began suspecting the FLSA violations beginning in February 2011, and he subsequently retained legal counsel to investigate the matter, the suit states.
During the spring and summer of 2011, Fazio disclosed to several other admissions representatives that he was in contact with a law firm and was contemplating litigation against the defendant for overtime violations, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit goes on to state that the executive director of admissions, Kim Ewing, questioned the other admissions representatives about Fazio’s efforts to investigate the defendant’s alleged overtime law violations, and during one of the final meetings with employees, an admissions representatives admitted to Ewing that Fazio was considering taking legal action against the defendant.
Approximately six hours after that last meeting, the lawsuit claims, Ewing and the center’s vice president and chief operating officer terminated Fazio’s employment.
“Plaintiff was terminated notwithstanding his outstanding job performance and his lack of any significant disciplinary history,” the lawsuit states. “Defendant’s termination of Plaintiff’s employment was motivated by its desire to discriminate against Plaintiff for investigating his FLSA rights and taking steps to file a lawsuit to vindicate such rights.”
The suit states that the Fair Labor Standards Act prohibits employers from discriminating against employees who engage in protected activity to enforce their FLSA rights.
Fazio seeks unspecified compensatory damages, punitive damages, liquidated damages, pre-judgment interest, litigation expenses, attorney’s fees and other costs.
A jury trial has been demanded.
The federal case number is 2:12-cv-01779-AB.